Saturday, February 05, 2005

BANGLADESH: Islamic Groups 01-05FEB [8 NEWS CLIPPINGS]

HEADLINE IN CLIPPINGS

01. Jamaatul Mujaheedin planned NGO attacks
02. JMJB attacked jatra, arrested activist says
03. Nizami denies party's link with Islamic militants
04. 12 Natore militants linked with Jamaat say investigators
05. 12 Islamist outfit men arrested in Natore
06. Bangla Bhai's men to keep bombing cinema
07. Shibir 'interferes' in CU results
08. Bogra admin bans all nighttime cultural programmes
///////////////////////////////////////

05/02/2005

01. Jamaatul Mujaheedin planned NGO attacks

A suspected leader of the Jamaatul Mujaheedin, Farman Ali, now in police custody, said they had planned to launch attacks on NGO workers ‘who had violated the rules of Islam’.

‘Non-governmental organisations employ woman workers, who always move on the roads violating the rules of Islam,’ Farman told the police during interrogation, claiming himself as a group leader of the organisation.

The Natore police arrested 12 Jamaatul Mujaheedin activists, including Farman, from Pirganj Sadhupara mosque under Sadar upazila on Monday.

Later Farman was taken on a four-day remand on Wednesday and 11 others were sent to the jail custody.

Local people, however, said the arrested were the activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

‘We are always ready to sacrifice our lives for Islam,’ the officer-in-charge of the Natore police station said quoting Farman as saying.

Another arrestee Ahsan Ali was the trainer of their groups. After completing their preliminary training, they would get ready for any operation, Farman said adding that they trained their members picked up from madrassahs and mosques in remote areas.

The Natore district amir of the Jamaat-e-Islam, Professor Younus Ali, said the arrested had no link with their organisation.

‘Jamaat-e-Islami is a democratic party. So we cannot support an ‘outlawed’ organisation.’


05/02/2005

02. JMJB attacked jatra, arrested activist says

Operatives of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) carried out bomb attacks on jatra (folk theatre) shows in Jamalpur last month, police said yesterday quoting an activist of the militant Islamist outfit arrested in Bogra recently.

Followers of JMJB chief Abdur Rahman Shai and members of the JMJB bomb squad carried out the attacks, said the arrestee, Shafiqullah.

The bomb attacks were planned at a meeting at a madrasa in Jamalpur Sadar upzila, said Shafiqullah, arrested with explosives from JMJB operative Joynal's house at Chaksadu village of Gabtali upzila on January 16. He however claimed he was not involved in any bomb attacks.

"A jatra show at Chhantia village of Dikpite union in Sadar upazila was attacked to frighten people to restrain them from staging such shows," Shafiqullah was quoted as saying during police interrogation before he was sent to the Joint Interrogation Cell on Thursday.

JMJB operatives exploded two bombs in the attack leaving at least 15 people injured.

Activists of the militant outfit had made a similar attack on a jatra show at Gabtali bazar in Bhatra union under Sarisabari upzila that left around 10 people injured, the arrestee said.

The bombs were hurled from speeding motorbikes, he said, adding that he was not linked to any of the attacks.

Police however arrested Awami League (AL) activists and supporters in connection with the incidents.

Asked about the August 21 grenade attack on an AL rally in Dhaka, Shafiqullah told police that he knew nothing about it. " JMJB men were involved in most of the bomb attacks carried out across the country, and no grenade attacks," he said.

According to police, the arrestee said members of JMJB bomb squads have specified jobs. His task was to connect electric device to bombs and switches of remote control bombs.

The squads comprise separate people to hurl bombs and supply bomb-making materials. But he does know the identity of the others, he said.

JMJB chief Abdur Rahman, its operation commander Bangla Bhai and other top leaders could provide information on the other bomb attacks in different places in the country, Shafiqullah told police.

On Rahman's whereabouts, Shafiqullah only said he sometimes visits the madrasa at his village home in Jamalpur.

Meanwhile, in an interview with journalists at a government office at Bagmara in Rajshahi a few months back, Rahman said he returned to his Jamalpur home about seven years ago after his retirement from Bangladesh embassy in Saudi Arabia.

Claiming himself as a follower of Osama bin Laden, Rahman said he planned to form an organisation in 1997 along with some others having the same ideologies, and it came into being as Jama'atul Mujahidin.

Police raided a meeting of the organisation at Maheshpur of Khetlal upazila under Joypurhat district before it was formally launched, where Siddiqur Rahman alias Bangla Bhai was also present, Rahman told journalists

As the situation changed, the organisers changed the name of the organisation to JMJB, he said.

A top official of Bogra police said the operatives, involved in the bomb attack on a jatra show in Laxmikola village on January 14 that killed one and injured 40, are yet to be arrested.

Police are hunting for JMJB operatives -- Joynal, Osman and Wajed alias Mamun of Gaibandha -- believed to be involved in the attack, said the police official.


05/02/2005

03. Nizami denies party's link with Islamic militants


Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh's Ameer and Industries Minister Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami yesterday denied his party's link with Islamic militant groups.

"We don't know them (militants), they have no name and address. They are either distracted from the religion or puppets of anti-Islam forces. They are rather working against us," he said.

He was addressing Rajshahi city Jamaat workers' council at Shah Mokhdum (Rh) Eidgah field in the noon yesterday.

He asked the party men to identify those who try to link Jamaat with the militant groups and said, "Resist those who are conspiring against Islam."

Rajshahi city Jamaat Ameer Maolana Ataur Rahman chaired the daylong council addressed among others by Rajshahi City Mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu MP, Mia Golam Parwar MP, Jamaat's Assistant Secretary-General Abdul Kader Mollah.

Quoting columnist Farhad Majhar, Nizami said that the Israeli secret service Mossad and that of a close ally of Israel were behind the rise of the militants in Bangladesh.

An evil power is plotting against the country," he said adding Muslims must remain alert to the evil.

He also said that the postponement of the Saarc summit was the outcome of an anti-Islam conspiracy. "Kibria was murdered to have logics behind the postponement."

Nizami also claimed that Jamaat is a complete Islamic party as it follows Al-Qur'an and Al-Hadith. "Our party believes in democracy and laws of Allah and his Rasul (Sm). And those who question us do not have the right to claim themselves Muslims."

03/02/2005

04. 12 Natore militants linked with Jamaat say investigators

Twelve activists of militant Islamist outfit Jama'atul Mujahidin Bangladesh arrested in Natore early Tuesday have links with Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front, investigators said yesterday.

One of the arrestees, Forman Ali who is suspected to be leader of the group, will be sent to the Joint Interrogation Cell in Dhaka today.

Sources in law enforcing agencies said the arrestees confessed during primary interrogation that a Jaamat worker and teacher at Natore City College had asked them to gather at Shadhupara Ahle Hadith Jame Masjid (mosque) in Natore for physical training.

Police nabbed them from the mosque.

Of the militants, madrasa teacher Alauddin is a ward unit president of Jamaat in Halsha union, whose father Hasan Ali Mondol was the union 'peace committee' president during the liberation war, sources said.

Peace committees collaborated with Pakistani occupation army during the war.

Another arrestee, Alauddin's student Saiful Islam, is an activist of Islami Chhatra Shibir, and his father Moslem Mondol was Bipro Belgharia union peace committee general secretary.

Four other arrestees -- Forman Ali, Shahidul Islam, Anwarul Islam and Mokhlesur Rahman -- are Jamaat members while Ahsan Habib, a student of Dastanabad Dakhil Madrasa, is a Shibir activist.

Earlier, Magistrate Mehdi Hasan had placed Forman Ali of Dastanabad in Natore on a four-day remand and sent 11 others to jail custody rejecting their bail prayers.

Forman told police he had organised the physical training at the dictate of one Abdul Quiyyum.

Talking to reporters while in custody, the militants said they were working to establish Islam. "Every one should follow us", one of them said.

The Mosque

The one storied Jame Masjid situated in Jaamat-dominated Shadhupara, seven km off the district town, was constructed in 2002 by Bangladesh office of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society of Kuwait.

Emaj Uddin, 'imam' of the mosque said Ishaq, Forman and two others were at the mosque when he left it at 8:00 pm on Monday.


02/02/2005

05. 12 Islamist outfit men arrested in Natore

The Natore police, with the help of villagers, arrested 12 Jamaatul Mujahedin activists and followers of Bangla Bhai from Pirganj Sadhupara mosque in the sadar upazila at 2:45am on Monday.

The arrested are identified as Farman Ali, 30, Anwarul Islam, 37, Makhlesur Rahman, 36, of village Dastanabad, Mohammad Ali, 20, Razzak, 28, Rafiqul Islam, 19, of village Hasimpur, Alauddin, 35, and Saiful Islam, 22, of village Halsha, Sahidul Islam, 24, Ishaq Ali, 30, of village Sadhu Para, Ahsan Habib, 22, of village Arazipara, Abdul Baki, 25, of village Sadhu Para of the upazila.

The district police superintendent, Nazrul Islam, said the arrested told the police that they were activists of the Jamaatul Mujahedin.

02/02/2005

06. Bangla Bhai's men to keep bombing cinema

Arrested operative tells Bogra police; Natore militants tell of plan to attack NGOs

Operatives of the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) plan to continue bomb attacks on movie theatres all over the country, said police, adding that they suspect JMJB was involved in the Mymensing movie theatre attacks that killed 21 in 2002.

The bomb squad of JMJB will continue such bomb attacks as JMJB treats movies, theatres and jatra (a local theatre form) as 'anti-Islamic' activities, said JMJB operative Shafiqullah while in police custody.

In Natore, the 12 militants of the Jama'atul Muhahidin Bangladesh, arrested from a mosque on Tuesday, told the police again that JMJB has also planned to carry on attacks on the NGOs.

Shafiqullah, arrested from JMJB operative Joynal's house at Chaksadu village of Gabtali upzila with explosives on January 16, also told police that JMJB carried out the bomb attack on a jatra show in Laxmikola village on January 14 that killed one and injured 40.

"The attack on Laxmikola under Shajahanpur was just a preview of JMJB's plan of carrying out attacks on jatra and theatre shows," a policeman, who interrogated Shafiqullah in the JIC (joint interrogation cell), quoted Shafiqullah as saying.

"The attack was meant to threaten people and to restrain them from performing and organising such cultural programmes," said Shafiqullah, adding, "But it was unfortunate that the attack killed a rickshaw-van puller."

Shafiqullah, who denied his involvement in the jatra show attack to First Class Magistrate SM Ferdous Alam, told police that he was inclined to join the bomb attack in Laxmikola.

But Joynal refused to take him as he was a stranger to the area, and would not have been able to flee since he did not know his way around, said Shafiqullah, adding that locals might also have been suspicious of a stranger in their locality.

A top Bogra police official told this correspondent that the police department fears attacks on those movie theatres that run pornographic movies. "We have asked the owners of such movie theatres to be alert and take preparations against such untoward incidents," he said.

The detective Branch (DB) of Bogra police also expressed its suspicion of JMJB's involvement in the Mymensing attack. Quoting sources, a DB policeman said JMJB took the decision long ago to carry out bomb attacks on movie theatres. He also mentioned that JMJB chief Abdur Rahman's origin is in Jamalpur, a close district to Mymensing where a couple of camps are located.

Bogra police are preparing to bring Shafiqullah in for another 10-day fresh remand, said a police source, adding that the Dhaka office has ordered related local police to take the necessary steps in this regard.

Meanwhile, it is alleged that some people are collecting tolls to carry on Islamic activities from Cornipara village under Gabtali upzila, the origin of Bangla Bhai.

Abdur Razzak, a member of Gabtali Sadar Union Council, denied the allegation, however, saying no such incidents have occurred in his area. But he admitted that a small amount of money, obtained from selling skins of cattle sacrificed during Eid, was donated to a newly formed madrasa, a common practice for the last couple of years.

Asked about Bangla Bhai, a representative of locals said he has been seen in the area for the last couple of months. Many of his operatives are active in Mahisban, Gordah, Masterpara and other surrounding areas.

"Many JMJB operatives were seen in those areas with the pilgrims who came from Afghanistan during last Ramadan," said the representative.

Our Natore correspondent adds: the arrested JMB militants in Natore told investigators that they were undergoing training in preparation for attacks against NGOs.

They also confessed during a primary investigation after their arrest that their comrades have sprouted throughout the district and neighbouring areas.

"We were jogging inside the mosque to train ourselves both mentally and physically against NGOs", a senior police official quoted one arrested militant as saying.

"Once upon a time the East India Company captured our country in the name of business; NGOs are the new form of the company. They are patronising anti-Islamic activities and taking people away from religion. We must prepare ourselves both physically and mentally to face them", the arrestee elaborated.

The highly placed police source said that most of the arrested persons were fresh recruits while two or three of them have been working for JMB for three years or more.

"They (militants) used to collect members in villages in the name of Islam and later inspired them with a revolutionary zeal", said Faruk Hossain, officer in charge of the Natore police station.

The arrestees include Alauddin, a madrassah teacher and the president of a Jamaat-e Islami Bangladesh (JIB) ward in Halsha union in Natore, as well as Jamaat activists Shahidul Islam, Anwarul Islam, Mokhlesur Rahman, suspected militant leader Forman Ali and Islami Chhatra Shibir worker Saiful Islam.


02/02/2005

07. Shibir 'interferes' in CU results

The Chittagong University (CU) authorities 'under duress of Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing' are allegedly interfering with the master's results at the communication and journalism department.

Teachers of the Department of Communication and Journalism had alleged that leaders of Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS), the student wing of ruling coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami, are putting pressure on the CU authorities to reassess the examination sheets of Abul Kalam Azad only to move him to the first position.

Meanwhile, the passage of the results in the CU Syndicate is getting delayed, as the Vice Chancellor of the CU has ordered re-evaluation of Azad's examination papers, said a teacher of the communication and journalism department yesterday.

Azad, allegedly an activist of ICS, sat the Master of Arts (MA) final examinations in 2004 and secured the second class fourth position. The results of MA were published on September 23,2004.

But not content with the grades obtained, Azad petitioned the CU VC Professor AZM Nuruddin Chowdhury on September 26, 2004 for re-evaluation of his examination sheets. Shortly after the petition documents had reached the VC office, the VC sent a note to the CU controller of examinations to take steps to that end.

On September 28 and October 2, 2004, the controller of examinations in letters asked the Chairman of MA-2000 examination committee Abdur Razzak Khan to deposit all the examination sheets of MA-2002 in controller's office.

But the academic and examination committees of the journalism department refused to comply with what they said was an unjust demand.

"This letter goes against the university ordinance that says examination sheets would be under control of the examination committee chairman for up to three months after publication of the results," Abdur Razzak Khan told The Daily Star yesterday.

Referring to Azad's allegation of irregularities in evaluation of his exam papers, he said,"The examination committee conducted the examinations strictly under the rules and regulation of the university ordinance. So there is no chance at all for any irregularity to take place."

Another member of the committee said an examination sheet should go to the third examiner only when the difference between marks given by the first and second examiner is 15 percent.

"No exam paper of Azad was sent to the third examiner as the difference in marks given by the first and the second examiner was insignificant," said the committee member requesting anonymity.

The CU administration is allegedly pressing the department also in different other ways.

"The VC has stalled disbursement of a teaching aid fund to the journalism department," a teacher of the department seeking anonymity yesterday said.

Meanwhile, at a meeting on January 15,2005, the Chittagong University Teachers Association requested the CU administration to take necessary steps to pass the MA-2000 results in the CU Syndicate.

When contacted, the CU VC yesterday denied all the allegations brought by the teachers of journalism department.

He said, "I asked them (examination committee of journalism department) to deposit all the examination papers of MA-2000 but they did not do so."

Regarding reassessment of Azad's examination papers, the VC said, "We are looking into the matter and trying to figure out what to do."

Refuting the allegation of halting teaching aid fund to the journalism department, he said that the CU authorities had disbursed the fund timely.

The VC, on the one hand, claimed that the MA-2002 results of the journalism department were passed in the Syndicate but on the other, he said the university authorities would consider Azad's petition.

01/02/2005

08. Bogra admin bans all nighttime cultural programmes


The Bogra district administration has banned all nighttime social and cultural programmes there because of fears of bomb attacks.

The district authorities will not permit any such programmes even during the day in open areas, said a high police official, adding that organisers will have to obtain a police security clearance report to arrange any programmes.

The authorities have cancelled all such applications seeking police clearance, including the British Tobacco Corporation (BTC)-sponsored concert scheduled to be held at the Parjatan Motel today.

Police authorities have ordered thana level officials to make sure that no one carries out any cultural programmes without their clearance.

The district administration will soon announce the ban-order over loud speakers, said the high police official.

Meanwhile, police said they are almost certain about the presence of the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) operatives in and around the city. The confirmation came from the information provided by the arrested JMJB operative Shafiqullah, held with explosives on January 16.

During a meeting on law and order at which all district officials were present, Assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Kazi Mortaz Ahmed of Bogra said they are sure that JMJB men carried out the bomb attack on the jatra (a local theatre form) show at Loxmikola village.

The Detective Branch (DB) of the police raided a JMJB camp a couple of days ago following Shafiqullah's statement, said a district police official, adding that the operatives, sensing the raid, fled from the camp.

Another JMJB operative, Selim, who was arrested on suspicions of robbing a Brac office at Gopalpur, confirmed that Shafiqullah is a JMJB operative. Both men were also identified as active members in the JIC (Joint Interrogation Cell) at Dhaka.

Another operative, Arifur Rahman, arrested in another robbery at Brac offices at Gabtali upazila, said while in police custody several days ago that he is a friend of Mijanur Rahman, a member of the formerly banned Jamatul Mujahidin.

Arif also said in his statement that JMJB men had laid siege on policemen at Maheshpur a few months ago.